Public officials used unregulated allowances to increase their salary by 13.5 percent or Sh42.7 billion in an environment where their salary increases have been frozen.
Controller of Budget (CoB) data shows that taxpayers spent Sh358.49 billion in the nine months through March, up from Sh315.76 billion in the same period a year earlier.
The increase highlights the more than 247 compensation and facilitation allowances paid to civil servants and has the effect of doubling their monthly salary.
In recent years, public officials have turned to allowances that the Wage and Compensation Commission (SRC) says are unregulated, to increase their monthly income.
“Allowances have become an important component of the total compensation package in the public sector, but it lacks a common policy on their management,” says SRC in its draft on public service allowances.
TSC spent Sh205.9 billion on salaries and benefits, a jump of Sh24.2 billion from a similar period last year, followed by the Home Office whose spending increased by Sh9.3 billion to Sh68.6 billion.
The office of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto spent Sh6.4 billion or Sh4.9 billion more on salaries and allowances.
Other departments that recorded significant jumps were the Judiciary at Sh1.2 billion followed by Members of Parliament, the Judiciary and the Ministry of Health at Sh1 billion each.
“In July, public sector institutions implemented the fourth and final phase of the review cycle, so the numbers likely include salary increases,” SRC President Lyn Mengich said last night.
SRC has accused government officials of multiplying the number of allocations from just 11 in 1999 to 247.
Civil servants receive compensatory and facilitation allowances, but the SRC says that many of the allowances that are paid are already covered by the basic salary of the workers.
Wage allowances are set on the pay stub and include housing and commuter; hardships, foreign, domestic and risk.
Facilitation allowances are paid to cover expenses incurred by staff members in the performance of their duties, such as
subsistence allowances or per diem, which are hidden and increase the pay of public servants.
The allowances represent 48 percent of the total wage bill which stood at Sh827 billion in June 2019, up from Sh458 billion in 2013.
SRC says the lack of uniform criteria for setting and paying awards has been attributed to the increase.
“In the absence of such a policy framework to guide the determination and payment of awards in the public sector, different institutions pay awards using different justifications, eligibility criteria, rates, and modes of payment,” adds SRC.
Last week, the agency froze the salary increase for all civil servants in two years, following an agreement between the National Treasury and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to contain the increase in the public sector wage bill.